One Weekend, Two Holidays, And Countless Reasons To Celebrate

The title of this post says it all. Whether you hid the matzo or hunted for Easter Eggs this weekend I hope you found as many reasons to celebrate as I did.

My weekend looked a little something like this.

Easter was spent baking this delicious Artichoke Goat Cheese Tart with a Polenta Crust, the recipe I have included at the end of this post. My friend Jenni had a birthday, spring, and Easter brunch on Sunday and I have been looking for an excuse to make this delectable piece for a long time. The day was spent sipping spring cocktails blushing with pink and sparkling like the sunlight with Prosecco. There was a home made pound cake with berries, whip cream and crème fresh, the clinking of glasses and laughter. There is nothing like a lazy day spent around a communal table with friends and food.

Passover was spent getting ready to join Bari and family for Seder. I made a salad, matzo s’mores, and matzo with dark chocolate and pistachios. The Seder was the first Bari and Matthew ever hosted on their own and it was a tremendous night of food, tradition, laughter, and thanks to Asher some calisthenics. Sadly I forgot to bring my camera to the seder but I was having such a good time I doubt I would have even paused to snap any shots. One of the reasons I have always loved holidays like Passover is the connection to the untold vast communities across the globe gathering at the same time. It is the marking of time and tradition. It is the annual seder, the Yom Kippur fast, and lighting the Chanukah candles that makes me feel connected to a family lineage I barely know. I feel close to generations I never met and I feel certain in these moments that generations that come after me will continue in the same direction. I find it humbling to feel but a small speck in history and know at the same time that I am surrounded in my history by people I care about so deeply.

On most days I could find any number of reasons to be grateful; I was raised in a house that taught gratitude as much as it taught me to eat with my mouth closed. At the end of Saturday night Asher came up to me with his 2 bedtime stories to read to him, one on animals and one on San Francisco. With his small hand resting lightly on my knee we looked at pictures of Coit Tower, at cable cars climbing steep hills, and we discussed the difference between the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. There is a section in the book about Golden Gate Park and part of it talks about the Buffalo in the park. I found myself telling Asher how when I was his age my mother used to take me to this park to look at these Buffalo, how they are still in the park and how I still go watch them. I caught myself for the first time talking about my mother with not a whisper of sorrow. I found myself remember the love my mother had for me and forgetting everything else. I discovered that perhaps this is partially the shape my relationship with her will take, not one of regret in the time missed as much as celebrating in the moments and memories we shared and sharing them with others. Asher’s wide eyes looked up and he asked the same question I had always asked my mom, what do the Buffalo eat (and for me if I could feed them). I found in just a few still moments that the love my mother felt for me was not lost on the night she died, but was left to share with generations she will never meet.

Maria Speck’s Artichoke Tart with Polenta Crust
This makes one 10-inch tart
 that is amazing! I adapted this ever so slightly.

1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups polenta
1/2 cup (about 2.5 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot or clumping. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.

Stir in the cheese, egg and pepper.

Grease a 10-inch tart pan or cake pan with olive oil. Spoon the polenta into the pan and press it out, pushing it up the sides. Set aside for 15 minutes and then form an even rim about 3/4 of an inch thick with moist fingers, pressing firmly. Don’t worry if the crust looks rustic.

Artichoke filling:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces artichoke hearts, canned or frozen
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 F.

Whisk the yogurt, eggs, scallions, salt and pepper together until well combined.

Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters and distribute them evenly over the polenta crust. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the artichokes and pour the yogurt filling evenly over the artichokes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake the tart until the top turns golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 – 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 to 40 minutes.

I made the tart in the morning and enjoyed it a few hours later at room temperature and it was a tremendous hit at the brunch.

Matzo S’mores

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange matzo on baking sheet, cover with chocolate chips. Bake until chocolate starts to melt, this takes perhaps 5 – 8 minutes. Remove from oven and spread chocolate across matzo. Place matzo in refrigerator until set.

Melt another ½ of chocolate in the microwave or double boiler. When matzo is set break into pieces about 2 inch square, take half of the matzo and with the unchocolate side facing up drizzle the melted chocolate to make a pattern, this will become the lid or top to your matzo s’mores.

Toast marshmallows on tin foil lined cookie sheet in the broiler until they are at your liking – golden or burnt. Be very mindful because this does not take long, and goes from golden to burnt to holy cow the oven is on fire in less than five minutes (yes I did all three).

Remove marshmallows from broiler and make a s’mores with your chocolate matzos. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate And Pistachio Matzo Bark

4 Pieces Salted Matzo
2 Cups Dark Chocolate
1/3 cup of Pistachios chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange matzo on baking sheet, cover with chocolate chips. Bake until chocolate starts to melts, this takes perhaps 5 – 8 minutes. Remove from oven and spread chocolate across matzo.

Sprinkle pistachios.

Place in refrigerator until set. Break into pieces and store in tin in refrigerator.

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04 2012

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  1. Jason #

    Just printed a bunch of these recipes. Can’t wait!

    • ra #

      So happy to hear that. I hope you enjoy 🙂 The polenta artichoke thing made me think especially of you, if you don’t make it before you come over in June I will make it for you.

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